Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Joe Mantegna Buried His Belief Of A Criminal Minds Reboot Until He Was Actually On Set

Amid a 15-season run that saw more than 300-episodes of "Criminal Minds" make it to the primetime airwaves, it was a little surprising when the series called it quits in 2020. That's even more true given how devoted the series' fanbase had become over that span, and how strong the series continued to be on the ratings front. Still, even diehard fans might've agreed "Criminal Minds" had gotten a touch formulaic after such a lengthy network run. And after a two-year hiatus, the series received a much-needed refresh when it debuted on Paramount+, with longtime showrunner Erica Messer conjuring a multifaceted narrative that both fits within and boldly expands on the original series' formula. 

As its first season unfolds, viewers are giddily devouring the harder-edged, and expletive-filled "Criminal Minds: Evolution." So too is the series' cast, most of whom are reprising roles from the original program. During a recent interview with Smashing, returning star Joe Mantegna gushed about being back at work with his old cast mates and shared the group's hope that the series' second run might last as long as the first. The actor went on to admit, however, he didn't really believe the "Criminal Minds" reboot was real until he was actually on set and running lines as onscreen counterpart David Rossi.

Decades in showbiz led Mantegna to temper expectations

Joe Mantegna didn't doubt that "Evolution" would happen because he thought Paramount didn't believe a reboot was necessary. In fact, the actor told Smashing there'd been lots of talk about a reboot prior to it becoming a reality. Rather, a career's worth of such chatter taught him to temper his expectations. "I've been in this business long enough that I don't believe anything," Mantegna said, adding, "When I hear something is coming back, I'll say, 'I'll believe it when I'm on the set, and they say "Action."' Until that moment, it's not real for me."

It's hard to argue Mantegna's mentality. He has, after all, been a regular presence in Hollywood since the late 1970s, and has no doubt seen a fair share of false starts in his day. The actor went on to confirm that  "Criminal Minds: Evolution" didn't feel real for him until he was actually at work. "Then, finally, that day came when they said 'Action,' and I got to say that first line as Rossi once again," he said. "At that moment, I said to myself, 'Ah, yes, I guess we're back.'"

Mantegna again noted how glad he was to be back in action with many of his "Criminal Minds" cohorts. And as the streaming numbers for "Criminal Minds: Evolution" continue to rise, likely aided by the fact that fans are absolutely loving Zach Gilfrod's murderous role, it's safe to say that viewers are just as happy as Mantegna.